Nine U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives, along with the Oklahoma Attorney General and 11 other key groups, filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the Becket Fund’s challenge to the HHS mandate on behalf of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. The HHS mandate forces the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan or face crippling fines.
“While any brief by sitting members of Congress is significant, this one comes from members who originally supported the federal civil rights law—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—which is at the heart of the mandate challenges,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The brief leaves no doubt that Congress intended to protect the religious freedom of those like Hobby Lobby and its founder, David Green, against federal attempts to force them to insure abortion-inducing drugs.”
The case is currently before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. A hearing could take place as early as this spring.
Signed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch, Daniel R. Coats, Thad Cochran, Mike Crapo, Charles Grassley, James M. Inhofe, Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, Richard Shelby and Congressmen Lamar Smith and Frank Wolf, the Congressional brief states:
- “Congress plainly wrote [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or “RFRA”] to include corporations[.]”
- The federal government “may not pick and choose whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not.”
The federal government’s “refusal to apply RFRA . . . turns the law of religious freedom upside down. RFRA places a heavy burden on Government and protects religion by default. But the HHS mandate places a heavy burden on religion and protects Government by default.”
An extraordinary example of bipartisanship, versions of RFRA were introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden, Senator Orrin Hatch and the late Senator Ted Kennedy, as well as then-Congressmen Chuck Schumer and Christopher Cox. It drew support from groups ranging from the ACLU, the Christian Legal Society, People for the American Way, the Southern Baptist Convention and Concerned Women for America. RFRA was signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.
In addition, 11 other key briefs were filed on behalf of Hobby Lobby stores, including the State of Oklahoma, the Christian Medical Association and the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, to name a few.
- “Operation of the Green Family’s corporations in a manner consistent with the Green Family’s religious faith is no less worthy of respect and protection than is the religious faith practiced by church members through a church also organized as a corporation under Oklahoma General Corporation Act.”
Brief of the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life and National Association of Pro Life Nurses:
- “‘[E]mergency contraception’” [such as the “morning after” and “week after” pill] has the potential to terminate the lives of unborn children. Being forced to pay for the termination of a human life is just as objectionable as being forced to participate in the termination of the human life.”
- ”Just as a person who believes killing animals is morally wrong would reasonably think it wrong to give a gift certificate to a steakhouse, so a person who believes abortion is morally wrong could reasonably believe it wrong to provide health insurance that can be used to pay only for those goods and services the policy covers and that specifically covers abortifacients.”
Brief of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Prison Fellowship Ministries, Association of Christian Schools International, National Association of Evangelicals, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, The C12 Group and Christian Legal Society as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellants and Reversal
- “Former Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and several other pro-life Democrats voted for ACA based on their belief that Executive Order 13535 would protect conscience rights as to ACA’s implementation. Former Representative Stupak has stated that the Mandate ‘clearly violates Executive Order 13535.’”
- “Nadine Strossen, then president of the ACLU, testified in support of RFRA, noting that the statute safeguarded ‘such familiar practices as. . . permitting religiously sponsored hospitals to decline to provide abortion or contraception services’ to others.”
- “The notion that a federal court may don ecclesiastical robes and purport to tell citizens that they do not correctly perceive the tenets of their faith is entirely foreign to American legal practice and experience.”
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Briefs in support of Hobby Lobby also include:
- Brief of Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Bioethics Defense Fund and Life Legal Defense Foundation
- Brief of The Right Reverend W. Thomas Frerking, OSB and Missouri Roundtable for Life
- Brief for Liberty, Life, and Law Foundation as Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellants and Urging Reversal
- Brief for United States Justice Foundation
- Brief of WyWatch Family Action, Inc. and Eagle Forum
- Brief of American Center for Law & Justice